A dog at the Front Street Animal Shelter has tested positive with a highly contagious and dangerous bacterial infection, Streptococcus zooepidemicus, known more commonly as strep zoo. The bacteria cause hemorrhagic pneumonia, meaning infected dogs can start bleeding into their lungs and airways. Often, dogs in shelter environments are found deceased in their kennels before symptoms of strep zoo appear.
To prevent this deadly infection from spreading to other dogs, the shelter will not be accepting any healthy stray dogs for at least two weeks. This will help save lives as well as allow the shelter to get back to normal operations as soon as possible.
In December, Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service (SCRAPS) went through a similar outbreak. SCRAPS closed to the public for two weeks and began treating dogs in its care, following shelter medicine protocols and best practices informed by veterinary infectious disease experts specialized in shelter medicine at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Front Street Shelter manager Phillip Zimmerman said he has seen this deadly infection in shelters before. “While managing the City of Stockton Animal Shelter, we also experienced a dog that tested positive for strep zoo,” he said. “Limiting the number of animals in the shelter is the most important step we can take to reduce a widespread outbreak of this disease,” said Zimmerman.
The shelter is asking anyone who finds a healthy stray dog to attempt to locate the owners by posting to Facebook lost and found pets pages, Craigslist, Nextdoor and other lost pet sites, talking to neighbors, and hanging large found-pet posters in the area. These tips, and a link to create a found pet report, are available at cityofsacramento.org/found.
“Studies suggest that 92% of stray dogs have a home – right now we need the public to help those animals get back to those homes,” Zimmerman said. “Allowing the dog to enter the shelter could be dangerous for that dog.”
The Front Street Shelter will continue to respond to reports of sick, injured, and dangerous dogs, partnering with other local veterinary clinics and shelters to house and treat those animals.
The shelter is seeking emergency foster homes to temporarily house dogs to prevent the spread of the infection to dogs currently at the shelter, which is at capacity. “Reducing the number of dogs in the shelter helps stop the disease from spreading,” Zimmerman said.
Because the disease is infectious to other dogs, fosters must not have any other dogs in the home. Community members can sign up to be emergency foster homes by visiting HelpFrontStreet.org.
Front Street will continue holding dog adoptions by appointment, but those dogs can only be adopted to homes that do not own other dogs and can be kept away from other dogs for at least 14 days.